COVID-19 Testing


COVID-19 Testing

Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing not only provides a diagnosis, it allows for earlier detection, timelier quarantine, accuracy in positive case reporting, treatments and more responsive contact tracing. In addition, testing leads to the early identification of outbreaks in neighborhoods, workplaces, and shared living situations.

Who Should Get Tested?

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or anyone who has been exposed to the virus should get tested. If you think you need to get tested:

  • Call your doctor and ask if your primary care clinic is providing testing. If you don’t have a primary care doctor, call 211.
  • Complete an online health screening assessment and a licensed health practitioner will contact you.
  • Find a local community testing site. Testing at these sites are provided at no cost. Some locations may require a doctor’s note or appointment to receive a test. Find additional information about COVID-19 testing locations on TestUpMKE.

While waiting for test results, take steps to keep yourself and others safe and follow recommendations to self-quarantine and self-monitor in order to protect yourself and your community.

Learn More About COVID-19 Testing (PDF)

COVID-19 Testing Types

There are two types of COVID-19 tests available for Wisconsin residents and testing capacity differs across the state. Visit your state or local health department’s website to look for the latest local information on testing.

Viral Testing

  • Checks samples from the respiratory system to diagnose a current infection.
  • Results are only good for the day the individual was tested.
  • A negative test means the individual did not have the virus at the time of testing. Individuals can be exposed to, and get COVID-19, after a test.
  • Administered via nasal swab or saliva sample:
    • Nasal swab involves placing a 6-inch long swab into each nasal cavity and rotating for 15 seconds.
    • Saliva testing involves collecting an individual’s saliva in a sterile container.

Antibody Testing

  • Blood test that identifies if you have already been infected with COVID-19.
  • One in every five or six infected people do not develop detectable antibodies.
  • Antibody levels have been found to drop significantly within 2-3 months.

How Long Does It Take to Get Results?

Some viral tests are point-of-care tests with results available at a testing site in less than an hour. Other tests must be sent to a laboratory and results are available 1-3 days after received by the lab. Some areas are experiencing a high demand for testing, which may cause a delay in processing tests and providing results.

(Sources: CDC, U.S. Food and Drug Administration)